Jean-Claude Van Damme

review enemies closer

A small plane crashes in a lake along the U.S.-Canadian border, and over the next few hours a group of drug-runners led by a militant vegan named Xander (Jean-Claude Van Damme) descend on a nearby island in order to retrieve the cargo. The only things standing in their way are a park ranger named Henry (Tom Everett Scott) and a mysterious visitor named Clay (Orlando Jones) who’s on a mission of revenge. Oh, and Xander’s lack of anything resembling a well thought out plan may also pose a bit of problem. Enemies Closer is a perfectly serviceable, low-budget action picture that is at its best whenever Van Damme is onscreen. He’s channeling Nicolas Cage circa Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans, and he chews his way through every scene with a gleefully manic energy. The bad news though is that scenes without him are slight at best and insufferable at worst.

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jean-claude-van-damme-jcvd12

Jean-Claude Van Damme has had a quirky and fun career resurgence. Yeah, he’s found himself in a position to return to somewhat mainstream relevance since 2008’s JCVD (which is all sorts of fun, and you should watch), and while he’s done so most notably in his role as Jean Vilain in Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables 2, and a solid voice acting gig in Kung Fu Panda 2, Van Damme’s heart belongs to indies and direct to DVD actioners. With two new Universal Soldier flicks amongst that list of films, I’d say we should be pretty stoked about the state of his career. Next on the docket is Pound of Flesh, where JCVD will portray a man who rescues a woman in distress, and wakes the next morning in a blood-filled hotel bathroom, sans kidney for his troubles.

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tiko and shark

Much of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is more of the same from Ron Burgundy and the gang. As the lead character, Will Ferrell does the news, does some ladies and has a few meltdowns. Brick says idiotic things, Champ says inappropriate things and Brian Fantana has a special cabinet alluding to his assumed sexual prowess. Oh, and Veronica Corningstone is back and mad at Ron again. There is even another cameo-filled brawl. But there are a few things added in that we didn’t see in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, like Ferrell wrestling with a shark that calls to mind scenes with a cougar and a bear in Talladega Nights and Semi-Pro, respectively. The sequel reminded me of some other movies besides those in the filmography of its star. Sometimes this was the intention of the filmmakers via a direct reference. Other times it was just the usual wandering of my brain making relevant associations. Occasionally the reminders came externally from another writer’s comparison. Regardless of where this week’s list of recommendations came from, I’ve wound up with a nice variety of titles about broadcast journalism and keeping sharks as pets plus selections highlighting some of the cast’s other work worth checking out. Queue them up for your holiday week, why don’t you. As always, the following may involve SPOILERS as some of the titles below are linked to specific plot points of the movie.

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jean-claude-van-damme-jcvd12

Jean-Claude Van Damme is having a moment. I hesitate to say that he’s having a comeback, because the truth of the matter is that Van Damme has never actually gone away. The man has starred in a film almost every year since 1986 as some form of the tough-talking agile street fighter that he essentially embodies in his present form. But even though Van Damme appeared in six — count ‘em — films last year, can you really say that you saw any of them? After his recent and much-beloved Volvo stunt caused a mild national frenzy that both managed to put his name back in the spotlight and make the car company cool again (kind of) by association, it feels like we can’t escape the onslaught on new JCVD projects headed our way. Is it because we’re looking now that our JCVD-vision has been adjusted, and he’s always been there waiting in the shadows to kick our collective asses with the power of entertainment? Or was the Volvo commercial a nice little publicity stunt to direct our attention to his new movies? Either way, it’s working.

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Volvo

“Here’s a trailer for the latest Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.” These are words we’ll continue to hear for decades. Schwarzenegger’s physical and mental abilities may fade, and eventually, like the rest of us, he will shuffle off this mortal coil. But centuries from now, citizens of our expanding space empire will still find Arnie at the local space-multiplex, composed of stock footage and CGI and still performing the same basic action shtick in movies that are just OK. So allow me to continue a grand, cultural tradition that will echo on through the years: “Here’s a trailer for the latest Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.”

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garth

Once upon a time, any artist who took money in order to hock product for some sort of corporate entity was widely considered to be a sell-out and a shill by the cultural elite. There was a shame in lending your talents to an advertisement or allowing an outside interest to have a say in your work. A shame that led to things like Wayne’s World mocking the rampant product placement that goes on in much of studio filmmaking, or A-list actors appearing in TV commercials in Japan, because the payday on those things is too good to pass up, but they know that they’d have their status as a celebrity diminished if they appeared in ads that ran in the US. On the other hand, in a world where the people who make our entertainment are increasingly unable to make a profit from their work due to things like online pirating, dwindling ticket sales in theaters, all-you-can-watch subscription services, and DVR devices that allow consumers to skip through commercials, we’re rapidly entering a reality where filmmakers are going to have to find new ways to keep the things that they make profitable, and it’s likely they’re going to turn to corporate interests to get that little boost of income needed to keep television series and feature films out of the red and in the black. As the interests of art and products merge, soon we could reach a point of singularity where we can’t even tell the difference between […]

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Drinking Games

In case you missed it this past November, or you were too cheap to watch it for a premium price on demand, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. This gritty and violent installment in the Universal Soldier franchise reunites Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren as bad guys being hunted by a soldier seeking vengeance. Don’t ask me to explain how this all fits into the series of films. (To be honest, I lost track sometime in the 1990s.) However, it’s one of those rare down-the-line sequels that is actually worth seeing. And if you have a beer or two (or seven) while watching it, so much the better.

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The Expendables 2

Sylvester Stallone‘s The Expendables undeniably got a lot of people excited when it was first announced. It sounded like a dream come true but the stark reality of it was somewhat more disappointing. It was entertaining, but nearly as great as it could have/should have been. With the second coming of The Expendables, excitement was still high, but tempered by the slight sting of the first. For a lot of people, dreams came true – The Expendables 2 was a vast improvement over the first, offering up more mayhem and one-liners than anyone thought possible, making it super easy to find 10 Badass Moments we loved. Of course, spoilers follow, but if you’re brave enough, check out the best badass the film had to offer, after the break.

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Jean-Claude Van Damme in The Expendables 2

Jean-Claude Van Damme was, without a doubt, the biggest piece missing from The Expendables. You can’t have 90’s action movies without him. The word on the street was that JCVD himself turned down a role in the film over some sort of concerns over character. You may be snickering at this, but coming off the critically well received flick JCVD the Muscles of Brussels was riding high on his acting talents. Regardless of what kept him out of the first film, Van Damme landed the meaty role of Vilain who is so obviously the villain of the film and early word from reviews is that he kicks all sorts of ass in the role. Now that all is right with the world and JCVD is standing alongside the likes of similarly muscled, speech impaired stars like Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Lundgren, it’s time to look back and relive the career of JCVD via splits and awesome movies.

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; every bit as important as Time Cop. This is the Film School Rejects column celebrating movies that are damme stupid, damme shallow, and damme awesome! Every week we tear into a lovably bad film like it was a Belgian waffle, which by the way was the nickname of our indecisive foreign exchange roommate in college. We will roundhouse a cinematic stinky cheese in the face with mockery, making plenty of surprise sex faces in slow motion as we do so. But as we are kicking it, we are simultaneously revealing our fondness for these flicks; kicking in the face with the other foot the notion that they are without merit. It’s actually a very difficult maneuver that has us executing a groin-punishing mid-air split. As we ice down our tender bits, we will gorge ourselves on a nauseatingly tasty snack themed to the movie we just watched. This week, the Alamo Drafthouse played host to one of the most epic showcases of epic film epicness to ever be epic. In celebration of the impending/now(ish) release of The Expendables 2, a tribute to one of its newest cast members was conceived. Three classic Jean-Claude Van Damme films, at least as classic as that combination of words allows, would serve as the appetizer for the bloody bullet feast that was sure to be The Expendables 2.

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Scott Adkins

Today, The Expendables 2 comes crashing into movie theaters across the country like a tank. With its Herculean roster of action legends, one name you might not yet recognize on the poster is that of Scott Adkins. We must stress, the “yet.” Adkins is currently fighting his way, literally, up the action cinema food chain. He appeared in such films as Ninja and The Bourne Ultimatum. He wowed many of us with his turn as vicious prisoner brawler Yuri Boyka in the Undisputed franchise. In Undisputed III: Redemption, he held his own with Mirageman himself, Marko Zaror. In addition to The Expendables 2, Adkins will again star alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, the “fourth” film in the franchise that was just announced as part of the second wave of this year’s Fantastic Fest. Not one to slow down, Adkins also stars in the action movie El Gringo, which is currently available on VOD services such as Amazon Instant Video. We kick around all these subjects with Mr. Adkins and he reveals, among other things, the status of Undisputed 4.

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et tu The Expendables?

It almost hurts to think about The Expendables. It was simply heartbreaking to see such a great concept squandered, buried in a mire of terrible effects, ridiculous over-exposited story and worst of all, poorly shot and cut action sequences. How could they have brought together some of the greatest living action stars for a modern action film, a seemingly simple endeavor, and still managed to screw up? So it was with “fool me once” eyes that we as action movie lovers gobbled up news stories on the inevitable sequel. Expanded parts for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis? Jean Claude Van Damme?! Chuck Norris!?! It wasn’t long before the excitement grew so big that it clouded our collective memory of the disappointment of the first film. With everyone important back, some great new faces and an R-rating secured, we allowed ourselves to hope that maybe they finally got it right. And while The Expendables 2 does deliver more of what we always wanted from these films, it’s still not quite the home run we wanted.

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Over Under - Large

Being John Malkovich was an amazing success story upon its 1999 release. Not only was it a critical darling that got nominated for a bunch of awards, but it also successfully launched the big screen careers of a music video director named Spike Jonze and a lowly TV writer named Charlie Kaufman. In case you didn’t know, those guys have gone on to be big names, and Being John Malkovich earns quite the pedigree by being the start of their careers. On a personal level, I walked out of the movie in ’99 shocked at how unique and inventive it was, and loving how it melded progressive filmmaking with a comic sensibility. Revisiting it all these years later though, I realize it hasn’t aged as well as I’d hoped, and I find myself wondering if it still deserves the level of reverence that it gets. Mabrouk El Mechri’s 2008 film JCVD didn’t get near as much buzz or recognition as something like Being John Malkovich. Maybe that’s because a big chunk of it wasn’t in English, or maybe it’s because it just wasn’t as good—that’s debatable. But the opinion that it showed us a different side of its star, Jean-Claude Van Damme, was pretty universal, and it seemed like it was going to be something of a rebirth for the action star’s career. It’s four years later though, and nothing has really come of it. The man has still been largely relegated to straight-to-video action movies, and any of the […]

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With The Expendables 2 getting primed to body slam, roundhouse kick, and just generally mess up moviegoers next week, all sorts of interesting tidbits have hit the web from its giant cast of men you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley. Terry Crews has already sounded off about continuing his Idiocracy work, so why not turn the floor over to another action star who has tons of past roles he wants to return to as well? Someone like, oh, the Muscles from Brussels? Over at Next Movie, JCVD himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme, opened up about the state of two different projects that are both near and dear to his big, beefy heart. First up, Van Damme dished (does Van Damme dish? just imagine for a minute that he does) about a possible Double Impact sequel, saying, “I wrote the script with a friend of mine Sheldon [Lettich], he [co-wrote] Bloodsport and Double Impact with me…Hopefully, somebody smart enough, like an agent or a producer, can put that back together.”

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Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming all-star action extravaganza The Expendables 2 is currently in the midst of a mass scale marketing blitz that recently motored on with the release of its final official poster over at Yahoo! Movies (check out a larger version after the break). Just look at all those big names standing next to each other and try to tell me that it doesn’t get you excited for the possibility of seeing them kick ass on the same screen. These guys are the biggest badasses in movie history, without question, and just the idea of seeing JCVD finally going toe-to-toe with Chuck Norris is enough to make one salivate. But what’s with the name of this franchise? The Expendables? Hardly. These rich old men are anything but, as their films have basically made all the money the action genre has brought in over the last three decades. To paint them as some sort of rag-tag team of underdogs is just downright disingenuous. If rooting for the little guy is your cup of tea, however, then boy do I have an appealing B-team of action badasses for you. Meet the Soldiers of Fortune:

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Sylvester Stallone seems to be pretty proud of the work he’s done on his latest film, The Expendables 2. So much so that he’s even dressed up in a suit and tie to premiere the movie’s trailer on IGN (fancy!). Sly says of his new all-star action extravaganza, “If you thought the first movie kicked some serious ass, you haven’t seen anything yet.” For fans of The Expendables, that has to be an exciting bit of music to their action-loving ears. But what of us who thought the first movie was mostly just a disappointing bore? Well, if this new bit of advertising is to be believed, there might be some hope for us as well.

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My anticipation for the original The Expendables was massive, only to be matched in size and scope by my disappointment after I actually saw the film. Stallone’s new version of Rambo was awesome, it was packed full of R-rated action movie sleaze and it wasn’t at all ashamed of being exploitation. The Expendables looked like it was going to be a continuation of that, and also a massive team-up of bitchin’ 80s action stars the likes of which we’ve never seen. It didn’t really turn out to be all that though. It was kind of lame and boring, and really it was just a Stallone and Statham team-up movie with a handful of other cameos thrown in. So I’m approaching The Expendables 2 much more cautiously. But even with lowered expectations, I can’t help but feel a little bit of a tingle watching the first teaser. I don’t know if it’s going to be the classless, take no prisoners, R-rated schlock that I’m hoping for, but at least it looks like this one is finally going to be the huge team-up of old guys that I wanted from the first. The team-up aspect is all that can be discerned from this teaser though. It’s a teaser in the truest sense, basically we get the names and head shots of the principal cast and not much else.

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Next year’s The Expendables 2 is set up to be a team-up movie of the biggest action stars Hollywood has ever known. The only problem is that it looks a bit more like a senior’s circuit than it does an all-star game. Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Chuck Norris are all huge stars, sure, but if you add up their combined ages you get… okay, I don’t know, I’m not going to take the time to add up their combined ages. But they’re old. Jason Statham is going to need somebody who he can fight in this thing without worrying about knocking out their dentures with an uppercut or ripping their colostomy bag with a roundhouse. Luckily for him, Variety’s Showblitz is reporting that he may have found a sparring partner. Earlier this summer Chris Hemsworth made a pretty big name for himself by very charismatically filling the shoes of the mighty Thor. He’s probably got a big Hollywood career ahead of him from this point forward. But it’s starting to look like little brother Liam is playing a quick game of catch up. Not only does he have one of the big roles in next year’s much hyped The Hunger Games, but also it looks like he’s going to be joining Stallone and company in becoming Expendable. His role in the film is currently undisclosed, but adding another high profile project to the resume has got to be big news for the young […]

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When Sylvester Stallone started casting for the original The Expendables it was said to be an all-star action icon meet up. Anybody who had ever been in an action movie before, and even a lot of dudes who just slept on those guys’ couches for a couple months, were all rumored to be in the film. When all was said and done, however, it mostly just ended up being a Stallone and Jason Statham team-up movie, with a dash of Jet Li, a sprinkle of Mickey Rourke, and a very brief cameo from the other big action icons Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone. Not quite the all-star lineup people hoped for. Now that production is underway for a sequel, the rumor mill has once again been churning out hopes and dreams of an all-star action cast. Not only are Willis and Schwarzenegger supposed to have bigger roles this time around, but sources loosely associated with the project have intimated that huge names in the action genre like John Travolta, Chuck Norris, and Jean Claude Van Damme are all going to be in the cast as well.

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It was bound to happen eventually. Alien invasions seem to be the note every production is striking these days (for better or worse), and there’s no way the paying public would want to see the fad die without Jean-Claude Van Damme taking a swing at those extra-terrestrial thugs. According to Variety, Dominic Burns will write and direct UFO, which sees Van Damme kickpunch his way through an invasion with help from several newcomers. Burns has acted, produced, written and directed most notably with Black & Blue Films (the studio that’s bringing you Strippers vs Werewolves!) which seems slightly like a Britain-based Asylum-style studio with a focus on schlocky horror and comedy. Sometimes at the same time. However, it’s Burns’s own Hawthorne Productions that will be handling this particular gem. Thus, the sky is literally the limit for this project. But honestly, who here among us doesn’t want to see Van Damme put his work boot through the slimy flesh of some alien with guts that hopefully explode out from his body? Exactly. None of us raised our hands. Bring it on. And if those aliens happen to look anything like snakes, they are boned (see above).

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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